Thursday, December 13, 2012

Translation failure of a children's book

I was browsing around a while ago when I stumbled over a translation of a book by Sweden's most beloved children's author, Astrid Lindgren, which baffled me.

In Swedish the title is Tomten which usually is translated to Santa (Claus), but wouldn't really fit here, another word could be tomte(n) which in some cases are translated to (the) elf or (Santa's) helper but they chose The Tomten.

Would it really make sense to someone who isn't Swedish (like me)?

The elf by Astrid Lindgren (fitting title)

The book is about an elf (the word I would go for) who lives in a barn and take care of the animals on the farm and make sure everyone is all right, even the humans. It's truly a sweet little story where you get to follow him on his duties and thoughts for a night when everyone is asleep.

Not only though was this an one time error, apparently another book on the same theme was called The tomten and the fox. It makes me both giggle and just wonder - why?

The elf and the fox by Astrid Lindgren (fitting title)

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